Keep your cheering in check and let the kids play
I have a great job.My life revolves around sports and I watch them all the time.I spend every weekend, and two to three nights a week, sitting in bleachers, watching student-athletes play sports because they love them.I have been here for close to a year and a half, and I am finding it harder and harder to sit in those bleachers and not be completely disgusted by what I hear and observe.And it’s not the kids – they’re great. It’s not the coaches, they are wonderful to work with. It’s the parents, spectators, booster clubbers and whoever else that think they can yell anything they want, that are making it hard to focus on the game.I hear them cheer against the other team, instead of just for their team. I hear them get up and applaud when a player on the other team gets hurt. I watch in dismay as they rip officials to shreds.I’ve even witnessed parents chew out their own kids, tearing them down and yelling at them in the middle of a packed gym. It’s awful. I am sickened.It happens in basketball gyms, at football games, on the soccer field – no sport is free of it.It doesn’t seem that long ago I was playing basketball in high school – and it wasn’t – 2000-01 was my senior season.Things were different.I had a strict coach and he may have been a little hard on his players, but one of the things he did right was teach us respect for the game and especially for the officials.We were under orders never to speak to an official, unless it was thank you sir or ma’am. We had to tell our parents to follow the same rule. If that rule was broken, in any way, there would be a nice, open spot on the bench waiting for us.Not only is it respectful to keep quiet and just play, and the way the game is supposed to be at any level, but it helps your own cause.If parents and spectators keep their mouths shut on calls they disagree with – which is probably anything that’s against their team – everyone’s going to be better off.Just think about a 50-50 call, who do you give it to? People that have been nice to you all game, or people that have been yelling at you and telling you how terrible you are all game?I understand that sports are emotional, and you want to see your kids win, but think about them. They are the ones out there playing. It’s their game, not yours.So maybe there’s a call you don’t agree with, whether it is right or wrong, take a deep breath and suck it up, it’s a youth basketball game for crying out loud.If you want to go nuts, go to Bronco games and sit with the out-of-control fans in the south stands and yell at professionals.While you’re at a high school game, remember you are supposed to be cheering for your kids and appreciating that there are officials who allow them to play.I have the upmost respect for officials nowadays. I can’t believe they keep showing up to games, only to be harassed the entire time.They do a great job, and if you don’t like the way they do it, take some classes and get certified and get out there. Let’s see what you can do, and how you endure the constant scrutiny.Just remember one thing – the game can still be played without people in the bleachers, but without officials, who’s going to blow the whistle for tip-off?I guess I owe my parents a thank-you, for coming to my games to cheer me on and watch me play the game I loved. They were always positive, never yelled at me or the officials. They were my No. 1 fans, whether I scored 20 points or zero, whether we won the game or lost by 50. I applaud the parents who still do this, who are there to cheer their kids on. Keep it up, and if a fan is out of control at a game, call them out on it. Athletic directors and school administrators need fans’ help.After all, there are kids that want to play the game. Just let them do it.Joelle Milholm is the sports reporter for the Post Independent.
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